Why Aperitivos Is The Best Italian Meal-Time

That the rest of the world has to adopt.

Storrey lived in Rome for 2 months.

aperitivos Rome
Waiting at the bar for an Aperol spritz.

One thing that I found very intriguing in Italy is that the culture is centered around quality of life instead of material wealth. Starbucks is unheard of in Italy because of how popular the small family-owned cafés are. Locals enjoy they’re coffee and pastries while they converse with the baristas. Many businesses close for a few hours in the middle of the day to eat lunch and spend time with loved ones. At dinner time, Italians prefer to share big meals amongst family and friends. Dinner is the largest meal of the day and extends for hours into the night before being concluded by fruit for dessert.

A couple hours before dinner, Italians enjoy aperitivos. This word literally means “a drink that is had before a meal with the intention of stimulating the appetite.” During the evening, when the sun is slowly setting on the city, some restaurants and bars will serve drinks and buffet-style appetizers. The agreement is that if you buy a drink you get to eat as much of the food as you would like. While I was living in Rome, I often substituted aperitivosfor dinner altogether. The locals flock to aperitivorestaurants to enjoy the food, drink, and each other’s company. This is a very crucial part of the modern Roman culture that I experienced and the US definitely needs to adopt it as soon as possible.

aperitivos Rome
Watching the bartenders mix impressive drinks.

One of the most popular spots in Rome is called Freni e Frizioni. This is definitely a place I recommend visiting if you want to get an authentic Italian experience. The drinks are made by three or four bartenders who you can watch muddling herbs and tossing concoctions between shakers. A crowd pleaser is the Aperol spritz. The drink is the most important part of the aperitivo because it is meant to stimulate the palate. The food is equally amazing; a myriad of family-style pasta dishes, various salads, and sauces are packed onto a long table. Each dish has a mouth-watering quality due to the impeccable olive oil that is used to make them. The food and drinks are both meant to prepare you for dinner in a few hours.

aperitivos Rome
A sign outside an aperitivo restaurant.

After getting your drink and a plate full of food you can walk out into the small courtyard to eat and converse. There are several tables and chairs, but they are usually occupied because Freni eFrizioniis a very popular spot. Everyone who didn’t get a seat occupies the rest of the courtyard. People will spend anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours here casually mingling, eating, and drinking. This is a time to unwind from a long day or prepare for a fun night ahead. For travelers and locals alike, aperitivorestaurants and bars are the perfect place to hang out between work and dinner or to meet with friends for a drink before hitting the clubs.

Photos: Storrey Lance

Storrey Lance


Storrey's passion for travel has never stopped, including studying abroad in Italy. She's a foodie, vegetarian & loves to bake pies.

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